Victors crown Darlene Zschech
MATTHEW 4:1-11 (NIRV)
The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the desert.
There the devil tempted him.
After 40 days and 40 nights of going without eating, Jesus was hungry.
The tempter came to him.
He said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
Jesus answered, it is written, ‘Man must not live only on bread.
He must also live on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’
Then the devil took Jesus to the holy city.
He had him stand on the highest point of the temple.
“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down.
It is written, ‘The Lord will command his angels to take good care of you.
They will lift you up in their hands.
Then you won’t trip over a stone.’
Jesus answered him, “It is also written, ‘Do not test the Lord your God.’
Finally, the devil took Jesus to a very high mountain.
He showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.
“If you bow down and worship me,” he said, “I will give you all this.”
Jesus said to him, “Get away from me, Satan!
It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God.
He is the only one you should serve.’
Then the devil left Jesus.
Angels came and took care of him.
Today we consider the “cross of temptation”.
When we understand the nature of temptation, we then can fully appreciate and share in the suffering of Christ.
Jesus spoke to his disciples in Matthew 16:24 (NLT) and told them,
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.
These devotionals that I will be sharing are series of messages that will help us understand what it means to; “pick up their cross and follow me.”
Then beyond the idea of carrying one’s own cross is the understanding that in doing so, we may come to know Christ more.
In Philippians 3:10-11 (NLT) The Apostle Paul writes,
“I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead.
I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!”
Temptation and the testing of our faith are very real in the life of a Christian.
Yet temptation is not sin in itself.
Temptation was real in the life of Jesus and it is real in our lives as well.
These temptations and these testings were very real.
Notice in our text, that everything that the enemy threw at Jesus, hit home.
Hebrews 4:15-16 says,
15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testing’s we do, yet he did not sin.
16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God.
There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
Just as Jesus identifies with us in every aspect of our humanity, we can also identify with Him in his humanity.
One of the ways we may know Christ is through knowing, and identifying with his experiences.
MATTHEW 3:17, 4:1 (NLT)
3:17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.”
4: 1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil.
You’ve heard the phase about, “striking while the iron is hot”?
This saying refers to the blacksmith who works with iron.
My son Ben does this, which is called, “forging metal”.
First, he heats the iron until it is red hot and soft.
Then he immediately hits the iron with his hammer to change its shape.
If he waits, the iron becomes cold and hard again, and he cannot shape it.
Opportune moments are the times when we want to strike while the iron is hot.
By striking while the iron is hot, we mean to seize the opportunity when it comes!
When we have the chance to do something, we should do it immediately.
Otherwise, it will be too late. That’s the way temptation works.
There was a couple who decided to trade in their car.
They found what they were looking for at a dealership about an hour away.
They worked with the salesman over the phone, and by email, and hammered out a deal.
The plan was to drive down the following day and complete the transaction.
But before they ended their conversation the salesman said, “I need to step out, and I’ll call you right back.”
In a couple of minutes, the phone rang again and he explained, “I couldn’t say anything in the office, but I did overhear another salesman say he has a couple coming to look at that car this afternoon, so I can’t guarantee it will still be here tomorrow.
Would you give me a deposit so I can hold the car for you?”
In other words, “you need to strike while the iron is hot, or you might not get this great deal tomorrow.”
THE ENEMY STRUCK JESUS WHILE THE IRON WAS HOT
Jesus was riding high.
The Gospel of Mark 1:9-13 gives the account of Jesus’ baptism.
He writes that there was a voice from heaven that said to Jesus, “You are my beloved Son, and I am fully pleased with you.”
HOW GREAT IS THIS?
Jesus emerged from the waters of baptism, filled with God’s Spirit, and heard the voice of God himself affirming Him as the Son of God.
Temptation and testing often comes on the coattails of victories in our lives.
It often catches us completely off-guard.
Temptation will inevitably strike at a point of our vulnerability.
THE APOSTLE JOHN WRITES IN I JOHN 2:15-17
15 Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.
16 “For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions.
These are not from the Father, but are from this world.
17 And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave.
But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.”
And this how the enemy deals with Jesus, and this is how he deals with us.
The first area of vulnerability which is illustrated in the experience of Jesus, is the temptation to be “self-centered”.
MATTHEW 4:2-4 (NLT)
2 For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry.
3 During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.”
4 But Jesus told him, “No!
The Scriptures say, “People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
It is important that we know that this was the real deal for Jesus.
Having not eaten for forty days and nights, Jesus was hungry.
Jesus could have used his power to feed himself and could have taken a shortcut, bypassing the cross and making bread for the world…
Jesus could have coined Herbert Hoover’s 1928 Presidential Campaign promise of follow me and there will be a “chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.”
Dear Father, thankyou for grace and help when we face temptation. Help us to understand that temptation is not sin. It is only when we give into it that it can lead us into sin. We see that we can endure temptation and lead lives that are pleasing to you, In Jesus name, amen!